Update: March 2004
Elephant Butte Area

We took a day trip to explore the area south of the Zion National Park. We wanted to explore the backroads areas and photograph the view of the park from the South.

Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway

We started at the Zion River Resort campground in Virgin and took the Smithsonian Butte Scenic Byway (Photo below). Although it was a little wet in places, the road was good overall. We took Highway 59/389 past Hildale and Colorado City, then turned east on Cane Beds Road along the Rosy Canyon.

Us at Zion


Elephant Butte

We turned north on a gravel road past Pine Spring toward Elephant Butte. We made it 5-6 miles on the sandy road, traveling across some small washes before running into deep snow (Photo below). We could see Sandstone Butte, but decided to turn around.

Wrang in snow

We parked at a stream crossing and hiked along the wet wash to the base of a shear cliff on the west end of Elephant Butte.

Annette in creekLarry on break

We were rewarded by great views of Zion National Park to the north and the Pine Valley Mountains to the northwest.

Zion view

We enjoyed the hike back down the mesa, along the rocks, and down the wash. After lunch we headed back to the main road.

Elephant ButteElephant Butte wave


Elephant ButteElephant Gap

Back on the main road, we traveled less than two miles, then took another gravel road north through Elephant Gap. We climbed to the top of an unnamed mesa (one of the Block Mesas) just north of Elephant Butte. Again, the views were spectacular here!

The snow prevented us from going all the way to the area known as The Barracks. We'll have to save that for another time.

Zion from Elephant Butte


Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Back on the main road we headed to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We were happy to see that they saved a small area from the invading ATVs. It seemed that everywhere you looked, ATV tracks covered the sand. After photographing the natural sand dunes, we found a geocache. We planned one more backroad trip along the Moquith Mountains but found the snow deep. We'll have to save the Indian Canyon Pictograph Site for another time.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

We finished our trip with a drive up Highway 9 through Zion National Park and back to our campground. We love visiting and exploring this area, because in addition to the incredible national park, there are great views, backroads to drive, and fantastic hikes in every direction. Top that off with the best-run campground that we have encountered in five years of RV living, the Zion River RV Resort at Virgin, Utah. I guess that is why we have spent two winters here. We will be back.

Created by Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 3/04.